Tennessee’s fortunes on the hardwood have never looked brighter, as Rick Barnes, the most decorated and accomplished head coach in school history, was handed the reins to the men’s basketball program on March 31, 2015.
The marriage of Barnes’ Hall of Fame-worthy resume — highlighted by 604 career Division I head coaching wins, the ninth-most among active coaches — and Tennessee’s world-class facilities, fervent fan base and outstanding athletic and academic resources, sets the Volunteers on a course to consistently compete for championships.
“Rick Barnes is an elite basketball coach in every respect,” Tennessee Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart said. “Rick brings an extremely impressive track record of excellence, as well as much-needed stability, to our men’s basketball program. This is an exciting day for our Tennessee family.”
In fitting with Hart’s mantra of “comprehensive excellence,” Barnes’ commitment to his players’ academic achievement cannot be overstated. His teams have posted a perfect 1,000 score in each of the last five multi-year APR reports as well as perfect single-year APR scores every year dating to 2005-06.
Immediately prior to Barnes’ arrival on Rocky Top, he oversaw a prolific, 17-year run at Texas that included 16 trips to the NCAA Tournament.
In 28 overall seasons as a Division I head coach, Barnes has led his teams to 22 total NCAA Tournament berths, six Sweet Sixteens, three Elite Eights and one Final Four in 2003.
He boasts coaching experience in Southeastern Conference (Alabama assistant, 1985-86), Big 10 (Ohio State assistant, 1986-87), Colonial Athletic Association (George Mason head coach, 1987-88), Big East (Providence head coach, 1988-1994), Atlantic Coast Conference (Clemson head coach, 1994-98) and Big 12 (Texas head coach, 1998-2015).
His success on the “power conference” sidelines is simply staggering. He coached Providence to three NCAA Tournament berths in six seasons. He then guided Clemson to the Big Dance three times in four years. And his 16 NCAA appearances during his 17-season stint at Texas gives him 19 tournament berths in the last 20 years.
Dating to 1995, every four-year player Barnes has coached has made at least three trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Not only do his players find themselves perennially positioned to play for national championships, but they also carry themselves with a top-25 swagger. Over the last 17 years, Barnes’ teams have spent 180 total weeks in the Associated Press Top 25, including 84 weeks in the Top 10. His Texas squad earned the program’s first-ever No. 1 national ranking on Jan. 11, 2010. And he had previously coached Clemson to a No. 2 national ranking–the highest in that school’s history–during the 1996-97 campaign.
On the flipside, Barnes has collected 96 career wins over Top-25 opponents. And his squads have toppled Top-10 teams a total of 34 times.
Nationally respected in player development, Barnes is the only coach in the nation that can claim two different National Players of the Year in the last 13 seasons (T.J. Ford in 2003 and Kevin Durant in 2007). Barnes also produced four consensus first-team All-Americans and three National Freshman of the Year honorees.
Barnes has produced 23 total NBA Draft picks, including 13 first-round selections. Durant — who refers to Barnes as “more than a coach,” but also a “father figure” — was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. Durant has won an NBA Most Valuable Player Award, four NBA scoring titles, the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, and an Olympic gold medal.
A native of Hickory, N.C., Barnes was born on July 17, 1954. He was a standout player at Hickory High, from which he graduated in 1973. Barnes moved on to Lenoir-Rhyne College (Hickory, N.C.), where he lettered for three seasons and won the Captain’s Award for Leadership as both a junior and senior.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Lenoir-Rhyne in 1977 and was named the college’s Distinguished Alumnus in 1997. Barnes was inducted into the Lenoir-Rhyne College Hall of Fame on Oct. 5, 2002, and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Lenoir-Rhyne on May 7, 2005.
He and his wife, Candy — who is also a Hickory native — have a son, Nick (born Oct. 3, 1984), and a daughter, Carley (born Jan. 9, 1988). Carley and her husband, Josh Lickteig, have two children: 7-year-old Avery and 4-year-old Caleb